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Mining; an Essential Industry

By: Andy Loader

When you take into account the way we live in society today it is an incontrovertible fact that Mining is essential to our way of life.

Everything we touch or use outside of living creatures requires a product from either a mine or a quarry at some stage of its lifecycle.

From the time that Stone Age man picked up the first rock and started to use it as a tool we have been committed to the need for mining and quarrying to support our way of life.

Given that this is so, then why is there such an outcry from the nay Sayers in relation to the Resources Minister’s plan for the expansion of Mining in New Zealand.

Is it truly that they want to stop mining anywhere and go back to living under a tree in a grass skirt and using as dock leaf to complete their bodily functions; or is it just that they are happy to export the environmental problems offshore and ignore their own participation in mining.

New Zealand is currently in a dire financial position with regard to our debt levels and rising costs of living yet we have great wealth locked up in natural resources which are required for use in everyday items we use such as telephones, electricity, transport etc.

Why should we not use our own resources and save on overseas debt as well as supply the demand for those resources from offshore, and make a significant inroad into our current account deficit.

I watched Russell Norman (Executive Director of Greenpeace New Zealand) on TV3’s AM show and listened to him talking about mining in NZ. He made the farcical idiotic statement that “Mining was a 1 billion dollar industry, Tourism was an 11 billion dollar industry and it only exists because we stopped mining”.

So he was inferring that with the push for expansion of the mining industry in NZ that Minister Jones is championing, we will not have any tourism.

What a ridiculous statement to make!

This type of over the top comment is typical of the anti-mining lobby in NZ which never really seems to be bothered by a need to tell the whole truth.

To think that tourism will stop or even take a serious hit in numbers due to any expansion in mining is ludicrous. While I don’t for a moment expect that there will be many people that travel to NZ to visit mining operations, I don’t believe that it will have any serious effect at all on overall tourist numbers.

One of the simple facts of the issue is in relation to the physical effects of mining, where it is easily seen that less than one percent of our total land area has been affected by mining in any shape or form and over 70 percent of our land area has been altered/affected by human habitation in some form.

The proportion of the New Zealand (NZ) total land area occupied by major land use types:

Major Land Use Type Proportion of total NZ land area Agriculture 45% Conservation 32% Forestry 8% Urban 0.8% Mining 0.05%

The Minister has been explicit in his statements that mining will not take place in high conservation value land areas but a lot of the land that comes under the control of the Department of Conservation has very low level conservation values.

With the demise of the Lands and Survey department a lot of the land that was under their stewardship was placed under the control of the Department of Conservation. Not because it had any particular high conservation value but just because there was no other realistic department to which control could be granted.

Since that time this land has become Conservation land in name and this is enough in the eyes of the nay-sayers, to justify the total locking up of that land from any development at all.

In fact it would be much more sensible for those types of decisions to be based on the actual conservation values of each area rather than just some overall classification as conservation land which stops any development anywhere on it at any time (now or in the future).

The nay-sayers often talk about the detrimental effects of mining and discuss past indiscretions such as the Tui Mine tailings dam failure in Te Aroha but what needs to be taken into account is that since those issues came about there has been numerous changes made to mining regulations to prevent re-occurrence of these things.

It should also be said that there are places where mining has actually improved the land as a result of mining operations and rehabilitation of the mined out areas such as on the West Coast of the South Island. There are many areas where there has been mining carried out on land which had very little value which as a result of the rehabilitation from mining has now become highly valued productive farmland.

Good mining activities can increase national income, reduce pollution, decrease land slope, improve topsoil thickness, decrease soil density, increase infiltration-percolation, and reduce soil erosion.

Mining uses less than 0.05% of New Zealand’s land area, and sites of former mines are now used for other purposes such as agriculture and tourism.

How big is the mining industry in New Zealand? The market size of the Mining industry in New Zealand is measured at $5.3bn in 2023.

What is the GDP of mining in New Zealand? New Zealand’s mining sector contributes significantly to its economy. In the year ended March 2023, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the mining industry amounted to approximately two billion New Zealand dollars. What is the size of the mining market?

The Global Mining Market is a behemoth, estimated to be worth USD 2,138.73 billion in 2023, and projected to reach USD 2,276.8 billion in 2024. This represents a remarkable 6.5% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate), highlighting the industry’s significant size and continued expansion. How much does mining affect the economy?

It provides employment, dividends, and taxes that pay for hospitals, schools, and public facilities. The mining industry produces a trained workforce and small businesses that can service communities and may initiate related businesses.

What percentage of GDP is mining?

The share of national nominal GDP arising from the mining sector has expanded exponentially. In 2022, mining sector gross value-added accounted for over 15% of the national total across all sectors. That’s three times its share at the turn of the century, and almost twice its share as recently as 2018.

Does mining help the economy?

By providing essential raw materials for manufacturing, construction, and energy production, mining acts as a catalyst for economic progress. The growth of mining activities often leads to the establishment of downstream industries, creating a ripple effect throughout the economy.

What is the biggest benefit of mining?

Mining provides several benefits to society. It can serve as a key player in economic development, employment, infrastructure, and the supply of essential raw materials. Mining operations also have the potential to generate significant revenues for sustainable development in mineral-rich countries.

Could we survive without mining?

Whether it is renewables or existing infrastructure, we cannot fly, sail or drive without mining. We also can’t move electricity without Copper wiring, so that means no heating, or cooking, or light in our homes, and industry unable to produce the things we need.

Minerals that have been mined from the earth are key components of modern technology, from the electrical wires in your walls to the cellphone in your pocket. Copper, lithium, cobalt and nickel are just some metals from a long list of mined resources that power cleaner technologies. We could survive without mining; but only if we are prepared to return to Stone Age living conditions. Would we want to do so? Not in our lifetimes!!!!!

Everything we touch or use outside of living creatures requires a product from either a mine or a quarry at some stage of its lifecycle. From the time that Stone Age man picked up the first rock and started to use it as a tool we have...

To think that tourism will stop or even take a serious hit in numbers due...

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elocal Digital Edition – June 2024 (#278)

elocal Digital Edition
June 2024 (#278)

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